Monday, 6 June 2016

Back to Blighty - Part 2 - Family time and then home again

Well there I was back in England, for the first time in four years. Still on Turkish time I was up at 6.30 on my first morning, in spite of a wee hangover from the celebration of my return the night before and anxious to see my grandchildren. I hadn't seen my 3 year old granddaughter Rosie for eighteen months and hadn't met the new arrival Harry now seven months old at all. It was a beautiful morning so I was able to make a coffee and drink it in the garden and await the rest of the family to rise.

It wasn't long before Rosie made an appearance and insisted that she had her cereals in the garden with me. How she has grown up and how she can talk!!! Rosie has always been a full on little girl, right from when she was a baby, so it was interesting to meet Harry and see that he couldn't be more different. He is a laid back, smiley, easy going little chap. Both gorgeous in their own way and very precious, a credit to my daughter and son-in-law. But of course I would say that wouldn't I?

Rosie                                                                                                                       photo credit Ross Halsey

Harry                                                                                                                photo credit Ross Halsey

The first day was spent with the children and in the afternoon we went into town to visit all the charity shops, one of my favourite pastimes! I couldn't believe how expensive they are now. The clothes were almost as much as buying from the cheaper outlets brand new. But I did manage to buy a suitcase and a bangle.

However, my visit was rather bitter sweet, as one job I had to do, was to go through 6 suitcases that I had left at my daughters house. The bulk of the contents belonged to my late mother. Things I had never had time to go through and I really couldn't put it off any longer. My mother was rather a hoarder and there was paperwork that went back decades, and thousands and I do mean thousands of photographs. She even had every single letter I had written her from boarding school, and considering I had to write home weekly for the five years I was there, it was a large bag of letters. It took me 6 days to go through it all. I didn't have the heart to throw much away, so the pictures were put in piles to be given to my son, daughter and cousins as appropriate and we made a suitcase full of family history and mementoes which I left with my daughter as custodian.

At the weekend my son and his partner came over for the day and it was wonderful to see him again for the first time in 4 years and to meet his partner (although they have been together a long time now). We also went to see a potential wedding venue for my daughter and (as I think of him) my son in law, who after almost 20 years together have finally decided to tie the knot. It was perfect, a very old privately owned property in the country with acres of stunning grounds complete with sheep, chickens and llamas and a lake, where they can set up and have the wedding that they want without the restrictions of a more formally run place. The plan is to have guests camping over a complete weekend which is a very different approach and sounds just wonderful, The aim is for this to take place next summer, I can't wait.

The rest of the week was spent shopping. In particular for shoes as having big feet I have a problem with this in Turkey where ladies shoes tend to stop at size 7, a shame as there are beautiful shoes there.

I was interested to discover that since leaving England you now are charged 5p to have a bag in any shop, so I left with armfuls of things as I couldn't bring myself to pay that.

The other changes I noticed were that the traffic has got ridiculous. Even in the more rural areas you were in a constant stream of traffic with no hope of overtaking. The other thing was that houses are being built everywhere. Thousands of them all in estates, even in the villages. I can't think who are going to live in them all and it looks as though a few years down the line England will be one large town from Lands End up to Scotland!

My daughters house is currently surrounded by mature pasture and woodland and now there is apparently planning permission for 90 more houses to be built. This is a dreadful shame as it will be devastating for the wildlife. One day a very dear friend came over to visit and as we sat chatting in the garden a deer strolled in and had a wander around. What a different world my grandchildren will see if it carries on as it is now - that's so sad.

Because it took so long to go through my mother's belongings I didn't get out and about, or to see as many friends as I had planned to, but at least I had a good time with my family. The weekend before I came back to Turkey we all went to visit my son and his family. It was great to see his new home and to meet my step grandchildren for the first time. His partner cooked us a lovely meal and it was a wonderful day. So here we all are - the matriarch and her family ....

Wonderful to have all my family back together                                                                        Photo credit Ross Halsey

So all too soon the 12 days had roared by and it was time to go home. On arrival at Stansted I was 3 kilos overweight so they told me to take some out and put in my hand luggage (which thankfully they didn't weigh). This was a tricky manoeuvre as I had to slide some stuff out of my case without revealing all my goodies. The guy got so exasperated in the end, with me saying well what does it weigh now, having taken out 1 pair of shoes, that in the end he said "Oh zip it up again, it's OK".

Allowing myself only 15 minutes to get to the departure lounge before the allotted time, my heart sunk as I turned the corner and saw similar queues for the control through as I had experienced coming out 12 days ago. I did get through in time although one couple who tried to duck under the tape got stopped by security. They said "If we queue we will miss our flight" to which the security guard helpfully replied "That's your fault you should have been here earlier!"

The flight home was pretty much on time and we were soon at Dalaman where unlike Stansted we were soon through the controls and outside. The car park guys picked me and my luggage up and took me back to a now gleaming car inside and out, and after a coffee and a chat with the owner, I was on my way home to Uzumlu, back to the other Fogie, the dogs and my life.

It's hard when your heart is split between where you want/need to be and your family and friends. I miss them terribly when I am here, but Turkey feels like home!